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Living Lightly column

Build with warming climate in mind

By Wendy

Summer is here again. The days of glorious sunshine are welcomed – until the temperatures get to high 30s and 40s again, and then we will all ache for cool and crank up the air conditioning.

But wait – how often and how long is it used for in your house? Have you built a new place and aimed for your energy rating as high as possible? What thought went into it? Are you planning a new build? How climate sensitive is your builder or architect? I mean really sensitive?

The fashion for building dark brick homes with charcoal roofing must be challenged.

Why on earth would anyone build a dark oven for a home these days? Fashionable? Yes. Sensible? No.

I live in a newish rural subdivision with most places built in the past six years.

Knowing how hot our summers get and how much hotter they’ll become I thought seriously about cooling and did not want a constant running air conditioner.

So it was light coloured bricks and light coloured roofing to reflect the heat rather than absorb it into the home.

My neighbours have fashionable dark brick and charcoal roofing. It looks lovely, but the air conditioning runs night and day from the beginning of the warm weather.

Mine runs after about five days of temperatures above 35 and even those spells of over 40 for days on end.

It runs to maintain about 25 degrees and is used occasionally rather than all the time.  I use it less than a quarter of the time others are humming away. We all have good insulation and double glazing.

The big difference is being able to reflect heat away rather than absorb it into the home.

Think about it builders and architects, think about it prospective new home builders.

Fashion before comfort is not the way to care for the environment or our hip pocket.